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Publisher's Summary

A riveting, revelatory, and moving account of the author’s struggles with anxiety, and of the history of efforts by scientists, philosophers, and writers to understand the condition.

As recently as thirty-five years ago, anxiety did not exist as a diagnostic category. Today, it is the most common form of officially classified mental illness. Scott Stossel gracefully guides us across the terrain of an affliction that is pervasive yet too often misunderstood.

Drawing on his own long-standing battle with anxiety, Stossel presents an astonishing history, at once intimate and authoritative, of the efforts to understand the condition from medical, cultural, philosophical, and experiential perspectives. He ranges from the earliest medical reports of Galen and Hippocrates, through later observations by Robert Burton and Søren Kierkegaard, to the investigations by great nineteenth-century scientists, such as Charles Darwin, William James, and Sigmund Freud, as they began to explore its sources and causes, to the latest research by neuroscientists and geneticists. Stossel reports on famous individuals who struggled with anxiety, as well as on the afflicted generations of his own family.

His portrait of anxiety reveals not only the emotion’s myriad manifestations and the anguish anxiety produces but also the countless psychotherapies, medications, and other (often outlandish) treatments that have been developed to counteract it. Stossel vividly depicts anxiety’s human toll - its crippling impact, its devastating power to paralyze - while at the same time exploring how those who suffer from it find ways to manage and control it.My Age of Anxiety is learned and empathetic, humorous and inspirational, offering the listener great insight into the biological, cultural, and environmental factors that contribute to the affliction.

©2014 Scott Stossel (P)2014 Random House Audio

What listeners say about My Age of Anxiety

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    1 out of 5 stars

Like Woody Allen. But not funny.

Great topic, but the book is a self-absorbed diatribe offering little insight. And not a single laugh.

4 people found this helpful

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Great book for medical/psychology students

Very theoretical and historical. I had almost given up several times. I have anxiety, but if anything the book gave me ideas for more phobias. I did enjoy the first chapters as they were more personal. I think that the book is perhaps better for those who want to understand the issue rather than those who suffer from it.

9 people found this helpful

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A must read for anxiety suffers

Any additional comments?

I have been a moderately anxious, worry-filled pessimist for most of my life. For me, anxiety has come with its costs (missing out of many otherwise fun and exciting moments in my life, blocking people from seeing the REAL me) and its benefits (always prepared for any situation, overly attuned to social cues), etc. But I have always been skeptical of the reasons why I am this way. Is it chemical? Am I being fooled into a diagnosis by the drug companies? Is this within the realm of normalcy? In My Age of Anxiety, Scott Stossel delves into each of these questions and more.
The book is the most comprehensive and complete narrative of the history, the perceptions, reasons, the social stigmas, and the SCIENCE behind anxiety that I have ever read. And while I won't spoil the story for anyone, knowledge is power, and for me - knowing and recognizing the reasons behind anxiety was therapeutic.
The book is not a casual listen. But if you're interested in learning about anxiety, there will be no more user-friendly, layman's manual on the topic better than this. The narration is easy to listen to, the author is easy to follow, and as I found - he has ample experience with anxiety and its vast array of treatments. This book should be the recommendation of every diagnosing Physician dealing with anxious patients - it helped me out tremendously.

24 people found this helpful

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Dry. Like a text book.

What would have made My Age of Anxiety better?

I thought this would be a personal story based on the description but the personal part was barely a chapter. Then it was like sitting through the most boring college lectures you could imagine. I couldn't keep listening.

8 people found this helpful

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Eye Opening

I love that this book strikes a balance between personal story and science. As someone who suffers from anxious thoughts it is incredibly easy to relate to and helps me understand those thoughts more clearly. It really opened my eyes to how normal anxiety is and how it can be harnessed for good and, in fact, has been harnessed for good by so many successful people throughout history. Even though it can feel sad and tragic at times it is most of all and inspiring story for those with anxiety disorders.

1 person found this helpful

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Best book I have ever read to date, Period.

the author touched on all subjects that greatly interest me, with me.myself suffering from anxiety. I would duely reccomend this book to anyone, especially rhose suffering from anxiety or those that can't comprehend it.

1 person found this helpful

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Would not recommend for someone with anxiety.

This is a detailed report about the authors anecdotal experience with anxiety and deep research into the several main treatment angles of mental health. The research is fine but the authors constant tangents leave this a bungled mess that is riddled with logical stretches and inconsistencies. For example: Stossel compares for the sake of medication use anxiety and depression which are mood disorders, against schizophrenia which is a PSYCHOTIC disorder. The overwhelming psychiatric consensus is to treat with medication. This is incomparable to the opinions on treating mood disorders. The book is full of this, and as someone who experiences strong anxiety I was left feeling hopeless about Stossels situation. This book felt too shallow yet deep in all the wrong areas. I would recommend this book only for those who wish to learn about “anxiety” as it’s categorized by the status quo. Don’t read this if you have it; or do. It just didn’t help me at all.

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Verbose. No purpose. No story

It is unclear to me what is the author trying to convey with a book such as this one. he did a lot of research then crammed it all together without a purpose, without a story a teleology. The result is a verbose and boring book. Not recommended.

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Pretty good, just long and somewhat scattered

Overall, I thought this was a pretty good read on anxiety. The author makes lots of great and relatable points on the subject while simultaneously describing his own anxious past as well as citing all sorts of studies and other well-regarded, related works.

I especially liked his exploration of the history of mental health. He digs into the timelines of various classifications of diseases as well as the introductions of certain psychiatric medications. After reading, it seems fair to say that modern society and its health care system is, at the very least, not actually solving the problem of mental illness.

I’m deducting one star, however, because, in the end, I’m not totally sure what the conclusion is here. There’s a lot of good content on mental health, but it doesn’t really reach a “clean” endpoint. It’s also a bit long; I feel like if it were cut down a bit, it would’ve been even more effective.

Though it isn’t my first recommendation in the genre, it’s still a good, if not very good, read. If you have the time and the interest (and I stress the time part), check it out.

-Brian Sachetta
Author of “Get Out of Your Head”

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Reader Comments

This book is highly recommend to those that have overcome and are living with an anxiety disorder. This book provides those with an anxiety disorder the information that they need to recover.